Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Leclerc had ‘one of my best drives apart from lap one’

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Charles Leclerc says finishing seventh in the Styrian Grand Prix was a “bittersweet” result after his first lap collision with Pierre Gasly forced him to change his front wing.

Despite finishing in the same position he started, Leclerc had to fight back from an unscheduled early pit stop after clipping Gasly’s AlphaTauri on the run to turn two, breaking his front wing.

Leclerc lamented the opening lap contact which compromised his afternoon. “It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling, because if you take off lap one, I rank this performance as one of my best,” he said.

“Well, first thanks to the car, obviously. But there was also a lot of overtaking. We didn’t lose much time in traffic. And it was just a fun race. I didn’t watch a lot of my mirrors, it was more focusing on what was ahead. And it was a good feeling from lap two onwards.”

After replacing his front wing, Leclerc made a series of passes into turns three and four as he recovered up the field, making further contact with Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso in the process.

“Turn four today was a good opportunity to overtake for me,” Leclerc says. “I took every opportunity I had.

“I actually didn’t feel any contact with Kimi. I actually learned just before that we had touched with Kimi, but I didn’t feel anything in the car.

“I felt the contact with Fernando and I spoke with Fernando at the end of the race and he told me he locked up a little bit his front and side wheels and went a bit wrong and thought that we would crash. But, luckily for both of us, we managed to make the corner. All of the moves were on the limit. But I had to take some risk obviously after lap one, because we had lost so much time that I had to go through that traffic as quickly as possible.”

In stark contrast to his Ferrari team’s dire race performance last weekend at the French Grand Prix, Leclerc was able to fight his way through the field to move back up to seventh by the chequered flag.

“It’s definitely a result of the hard work that the team has done in between these two races. That’s definitely partly thanks to the big work that’s been done and it’s also partly track characteristics and car characteristics that seem to be fitting quite well for this weekend. We’ll keep on working very hard to try and understand exactly what we’ve done right today to try and reproduce this type of performance more often in the future.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Styrian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

40 comments on “Leclerc had ‘one of my best drives apart from lap one’”

  1. Hitting three cars in one race is not one of the best drives, in my book. But then again, I am not a racing driver. So may be my standards are a bit different.

    1. @silfen
      He said excluding lap one, I mean it’s right there in the headline! It’s like you didn’t read any of the article and went straight to comment on it.

      1. @Neutralino

        The other two collisions weren’t in lap one.

        1. @silfen
          You said three times, so you’re saying your initial comment was incorrect?
          Also I’m not sure what the other two times you’re referring to are, with Raikkonen it was close for instance but there wasn’t contact. There definitely wasn’t a ‘collision’ if there wasn’t even any contact.

          1. There was contact, certainly, and Kimi’s wing endplate was broken

        2. someone or something
          27th June 2021, 22:43

          The one with Alonso was Alonso’s own fault, by Alonso’s own admission.
          I don’t know if Räikkönen has taken the blame, but I find it bewildering that quite a few seem to blame Leclerc for driving in a straight line while on a straight line. Räikkönen turned into him, was basically caught napping.

          1. Everyone: Leclerc hit Kimi and was lucky not to have a puncture
            This guy: Kimi hit Leclerc

          2. @someone or something, He never had contact with Alonso, or at least not on the world feed.

          3. someone or something
            28th June 2021, 18:02

            Well, voxselph1, ‘this guy’, as you so respectfully call him, has eyes he uses to look at the actual footage, so that he doesn’t need to parrot what ‘everyone’ says.
            But see for yourself: https://imgur.com/a/3m9iCqV
            Notice anything?

            @ jerejj
            Yes, he had. It wasn’t crystal clear on the world feed, but if you looked closely, you could see Leclerc’s car wobbling a little bit, as well as a tiny puff of smoke from the contact. And if that wasn’t already enough, we have Leclerc relating his exchange with Alonso about the contact, in this very article.
            Anyway, here’s what it looked like from Leclerc’s perspective: Click. Unfortunately, Alonso’s perspective was useless, as the onboard camera sometimes randomly shows what’s happening behind, and that was the case here.

    2. I agree, I wonder how the FIA let him off the hook again. Causing a collision (on the straight, with room to spare ffs!) should not have gone unpenalised.

      But I understand the tenacity of the stewards to punish a driver who is managed by the son of their boss.

      1. Don’t forget the team he drives for along with the management, similarly he wasn’t even black flagged at Suzuka GP nor any penalties for multiple infringements at Monza GP.

        1. chaitanya
          There haven’t been any black flags given out since 2007 and a couple years prior to that relating to driving standards on track.
          To seriously suggest Leclerc should’ve been black flagged at Suzuka in 2019 is frankly ridiculous.
          Conspiracy theorists who comment with such vitriol like yourself are a plague on this site.

          1. His car was shedding parts which had lead to Norris to pit early and even after instructions from team to pit he continues racing saying its ok. MotoGP rider regularly get black flagged for mechanical issues which are picked up by stewards(infact yesterday Miller was black flagged after rejoining race after a crash).

          2. Chaitanya
            This isn’t MotoGP, it’s F1, and black flags are very rare in F1.
            The last black flag in F1 I believe was for leaving the pit lane when the red light was on, and I don’t hear you demanding that Hamilton received a black flag for entering the pit lane when it was closed in Monza last year, a similar incident that may have warranted one 15+ years ago.

        2. ….or like HAM, who should have been black flagged in 2016 Mexico for skipping an entire section of the track…. and suddenly found himself with a 2-3sec advantage. Talking about gaining an (lasting) advantage….

          Reality is, he should be more careful indeed, but I find him at fault only 50% for the collision with GAS. RAI is mostly at fault for that incident, LEC had 90% of the car ahead already and RAI had plenty of space to the right. Unless there’s something beyond rules, the driver behind is at fault, not the one in front.

      2. Yes he basically ruined another car’s race by unnecessarily hitting him. Compared to what else gets punished, it shouldn’t be let off, even if it’s L1.

    3. @silfen @balue
      Both incidents were 50/50. Neither Leclerc nor Gasly was solely at fault as both moved slightly towards each other.
      The same with Kimi, as he didn’t do any sudden erratic movement after completing his overtake.

  2. He can say a lot, but unfortunately you can’t magic that first lap out of existence and he deserves scrutiny over it. Should have been penalized.

    1. @aiii
      I strongly disagree. Gasly was equally to blame for this incident. Their lines crossed and it was poor judgement by both drivers. Both should’ve given each other more space. The Alpha Tauri had at least a car’s width of space left on the right side of the track and Leclerc didn’t need to steer that far to the right and cross lines with Gasly.
      It’s a 50:50 case IMO and the stewards were right not to issue a penalty this time. Just an unfortunate situation between the two of them.

      1. Absolutely cannot a apportion blame on Gasly for that incident – when your FRONT WING catches the REAR tyre of another car on a straight, YOU did wrong.

        1. @joeypropane if you change direction in the middle of a straight without looking in your mirrors you are at fault. Webber did the same in Brazil 2009 on Raikkonen and the commentators then were right in claiming he should’ve gotten a penalty. it’s the first lap here and Leclerc maybe shoulders about 10 percent more blame.

        2. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
          28th June 2021, 7:29

          I like this. Basic traffic law. Whoever was behind is at fault

          1. @realnigelmansell yeah, and what’s that about following the preceding car that close? Haven’t they heard about traffic laws? Do they think they’re racing or something?

            All jokes aside, it’s obviously not that simple. Unless we’re going to blame Leclerc for his colision with Vettel in Brazil 2019 as well. After all, he was behind since his front wing/wheel collided with Seb’s rear.

      2. Gasly gave him plenty of space. When one driver hits the other driver in virtually a straight line, the hitter is usually at fault.

        Reply moderated
      3. @srga91 Precisely what I’ve been pointing out.

    2. Indeed @aiii, or we would start saying Bottas had a great race, apart from that stupid driver error on Friday. If it’s a significant mistake like both of them made this weekend, that paints the picture of the weekend, since the rest is only recovery to make up for the error.

  3. He destroyed two drivers their race.. And only recovered to where he started… Terrible and Driver of the day Unworthy..

    But that Award is worthless anyway since Grosjean got it after Nearly Killing Kvyat and Himself last year 😅

    1. Driver of the Race has about as much credibility as the Oscars.

      Reply moderated
    2. “NeArLy KiLlInG kVyAt AnD hImSeLf LaSt YeAr”

      You think this is funny, huh?! You think you’re John Wick who can kill anyone, huh?!

    3. @Ronny LOL. Both cases were 50-50.

    4. Whose race apart from Gasly did he distroy?
      There was maybe a little contact with Alonso but they both escaped unharmed.
      And then we had the contact with Raikkonen who lost a part of his wing but apparently didn’t suffer to much either.
      Btw: Raikkonen did the same to Leclerc as Leclerc did to Gasly.
      It’s either one on Leclerc and one on Raikkonen or both 50/50.
      But you cannot blame Leclerc for both incidents…

  4. Although it seemed very bad after the contact with Gasly on the first lap and having to pit immediately, it was a very well driven race by Charles after that.
    It was actually quite fun watching him, because whenever I saw Verstappen pass the straight between T1 and 3, Leclerc was between T6 and 7 (thanks to my great seats I was able to watch them both =D) and his pace was actually pretty good as long as he was in clean air, matching Perez and Bottas and only being slightly slower than Verstappen and Hamilton.

    I don’t get why people think Charles was exclusively to blame for the first-lap incident. I filmed it at the start and watched the Ferrari’s onboard a couple of times, but I think it was more of a 50:50-situation, because the lines of both drivers crossed (Leclerc moving to the right and Gasly to the left) and both just misjudged the space available to them.

  5. Indeed, great recovery by leclerc (and sainz), ferraris made the race more exciting.

  6. This site has as many Mazepin fans as people willing to put Leclerc through the fire for his lap 1 incident. The Raikkonen one was marginal and it was more down to Kimi braking late to try and get an opportunity to stay close to CL on the corner. The Alonso one was Alonso’s fault, as Alonso himself said.

    If you feel CL is getting favourable treatment because he’s Nico Todt’s ward, unless you can prove there was favourable treatment towards Bourdais, Massa, Maldonado, Bianchi and Kvyat (all Todt proteges) your opinion is kinda garbage.

    1. They just love hating on Charles, because a) he’s a Ferrari driver and b) pushed Seb out of Ferrari and the people here adore Seb.
      That’s completely biased bs! There was a similar incident between the Alfa Romeos in Portimao (although with a completely different result), but I don’t recall people throwing Kimi under the bus for hitting Giovinazzi.

      1. @srga91
        Completely agree, but I’d add to your list it’s also hardcore Hamilton fans who still insist on bringing up Monza 2019 because they can’t take losing for once.

    2. @wsrgo Indeed. I agree with you entirely, although still not quite sure about an Alonso incident reference as Leclerc never had contact with him, or at least it didn’t get shown on the world feed footage.

  7. Right here is my take on the incident. Alonso, Leclerc and Gasly attempt to go 3 wide into T1. That just doesn’t work, and both Leclerc and Gasly go off the track. Both of them rejoin, Gasly a little bit more aggressively than Leclerc, and Gasly moves over to the right to cover off Alonso and inadvertently also Stroll, who has to back out. The natural racing line for that part of the track does shift towards the right down towards T2, and both drivers shift in that direction. Gasly then briefly puts a small amount of left hand steering on, giving Alonso a bit more space on his right. At almost the same time, Leclerc moves aggressively to the right, to try and tuck into the slipstream, and clips Gasly’s tyre, puncturing the tyre and giving Leclerc quite serious front wing damage.

    In terms of blame, I’m not going to lay it entirely in Leclerc’s hands, but the majority of the blame does lie with him. He makes the aggressive move to the right that results in the puncture. However, I feel there are a combination of factors that come into play here, such as how both cars rejoined the track at T1, and Gasly’s slight move to the left to give Alonso more space. I think it falls about 70-30 or 75-25 on Charles. I don’t think any blame can be put on Leclerc for the incidents with Gio and Latifi at T3 though. Gasly will have known he had a puncture by that point, and could probably have braked a little bit earlier to ensure he would slow down adequately and stay out the way. Additionally, Gasly is a bit spooked by a very late braking Ricciardo and has to move a bit to the left to make room for him, which causes the initial contact with Gio. The contact with Latifi is mainly down to Gasly giving Gio a very wide berth in the T3 runoff area, and making contact with Latifi in that runoff area. While Leclerc may have caused the original puncture, I don’t think he can take any blame for the incidents at the top of the hill.

    The next point to raise is whether any penalty would have achieved anything. I think the only realistic options available would have been a 5 or 10 second time penalty, as even for that incident a drive-through or stop-go is probably a bit harsh. If the penalty was given before the end of the first lap (which is unlikely), Leclerc would have simply dropped further behind the rest of the pack, as he was already second last but about 20-25 seconds ahead of Latifi. This would just mean Leclerc would take slightly longer to pass the rest of the lower midfield, but he would have probably still finished in the same position or possibly 1 or 2 places lower behind Stroll. If the penalty was given in the middle of the race, then he would have served it at his second stop, bringing him out a few seconds behind Ocon, instead of just in front of him. But again, with the pace he was showing, he would probably have still finished in the same position. If the penalty was given after the race, then he would still have finished in the same position as he was 15 seconds ahead of Stroll at the chequered flag. However, I do think some penalty points and/or a reprimand were probably in order here.

    Overall, I don’t particularly think this incident is really a bad thing for Leclerc. He’s in his 4th season in F1 now, and that is often the point where we see people make some mistakes but still learn from them. 2018 was Verstappen’s 4th season, and he started that by making a pretty big mistake in pretty much all of the opening 6 weekends. Since then, he has learned and matured significantly into the driver he is today who is fighting for a world championship. Go back 10 years to 2010 and 2011 and Lewis Hamilton was going through the same phase, usually by hitting Felipe Massa more often than not. And he’s in a pretty good position now. In the end, I hope Leclerc uses this as an opportunity to learn, especially learn where the front of the car is, as that is easier said than done when you can’t see anything apart from the top of your front wheels.

  8. Great dirve by Leclerc. He and max are coming strong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.